Renewed bid to demolish Sidmouth care home and build retirement flats
PUBLISHED: 09:30 10 January 2018
Fresh plans have been submitted to demolish a former Sidmouth care home to make way for sheltered housing for the elderly – with a proposed ‘affordable’ housing payment 10 times the previous amount.
Churchill Retirement Living now hopes to build 39 one and two-bedroom apartments on the site of the old Green Close property, up from 36 previously.
The application includes communal facilities, landscaping, parking for 24 vehicles, and access to the Drakes Avenue site.
The developer appealed to the Planning Inspectorate after East Devon District Council failed to issue a decision on its last application within the allotted time. The plans were approved but Churchill submitted a viability report showing it could only contribute £41,000 towards off-site ‘affordable’ housing. The authority tried to negotiate an ‘overage’ clause that would see it share half of any profits that exceeded initial forecasts, but the two sides could not reach an agreement.
Churchill’s appeal was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate – although the new application says the decision is being appealed in the High Court.
It adds: “The current application seeks to include the maximum amount of affordable housing contribution that can be provided on this site, bearing in mind national and local policy.
“It does not take into account any arguments about the current viability of the proposals, although it is very likely that viability will be a significant issue for this scheme, bearing in mind the previous application. This showed that a contribution in line with the policy target for affordable housing could not be made, falling short by some considerable margin.”
Churchill’s new plans say it is impractical to provide on-site affordable housing and doing so would ‘make it impossible to achieve a successful housing development’. The developer is proposing an off-site contribution of £423,576, but says a further viability assessment has not been provided and it reserves the right to undertake one.
Town councillors slammed Churchill’s last offer of £41,000 as an ‘insult’ to Sidmouth – claiming the developer stood to ‘make millions’ from the development. Planning committee members will discuss the new plans on Wednesday (January 10).
The minimum age for the apartments is 60 but Churchill has found its average occupant is 79, and the majority are single women.
The Green Close care home was built in 1971 but closed in 2014 after Devon County Council cutbacks.